Teachers normally assign reaction papers after students watch a film, listen to a speaker or go on a field trip. In a reaction paper, the writer responds to what she has seen and heard, explaining her feelings and thoughts and relating the subject to course material or her own life. Thus, a reaction paper is a personal composition and does not follow a rigid structure. However, each paragraph in a reaction paper should still include a topic sentence and maintain unity and coherence among ideas.
Pick one point that the speaker or film made that you found meaningful or convincing or that you strongly disagreed with. Write a topic sentence that explains this point and briefly states your reaction to it.
Describe your reaction in detail. Write your thoughts, feelings and observations. Use analogies or imagery if helpful. If you went on a field trip, refer to the five senses (sight, sound, touch, taste and smell) to help the reader imagine what it was like to be there.
Explain the reason for your reaction. Detail why you feel the way you do or why you think the speaker or exhibit said or displayed what it did.
Reflect on the significance of the event in relation to the course, school or even your own life. Discuss how watching or experiencing the event will affect your future, whether it’s something as minor as what happens today or as major as your future career.
Conclude your reaction paper paragraph with a sentence that brings closure to the ideas you presented, rather than ending abruptly.
Edit your paragraph for clarity, and correct any grammar and spelling mistakes. Check that the ideas in your sentences connect from one to the other like links in a chain. Ensure your concluding sentence relates back to the topic sentence.
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- Avoid simply summarizing what happened. A reaction paper covers the writer’s experience; it does not strive to retell the event from an objective point of view.
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